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Firefish Goby (Magnificent Dartfish) – Complete Guide

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Firefish Goby (Magnificent Dartfish)
A guide to characteristics and care

The firefish goby is a stunning, small saltwater fish full of personality. Timid when first introduced to a new environment it is suited to the smaller reef aquarium. Once it feels safe, however, it will soon be found hovering near the bottom just waiting for tidbits of food.

It is a unique-looking fish with elongated dorsal fins and a tri-color body that will brighten any aquarium. They are found naturally in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Useful Information

Scientific NameNemateleotris Magnifica
Common NameFirefish Goby, Fire Goby,Firedart Fish
OriginAfrica, Coral Ocean, Maldives, Indonesia
SociabilityPeaceful & Timid
Size3 Inch Max
Minimum Tank Size20 Gals
Experience Level NeededAll levels
CareEasy to moderate
Water ParameterspH 8.1-8.4, 8-12 dGh, 72-80F
Reef/Coral SafeYes
BreedingEgg Layer

Colour and Appearance

The firefish goby is a unique and distinctive looking fish. It has a long slender body with a high dorsal fin and tri-colour markings. Starting with the yellow on the tip of its head it then fades into a white body and finally turns to a reddish orange towards its tail end. The dorsal and caudal fin are also highlighted in black.

Firefish goby


Firefish goby is native to the Indian and Pacific ocean off the coast of countries such as Africa, Indonesia, and the Maldives. Here they can be found hovering in groups above the reef and creating burrows in the sand. The depth the firefish goby can be found is quite vast at between 20 and 230 feet.


Being a timid fish the firefish goby may hide for several days when first added to an aquarium. When they come out, however, they are full of personality. They will often be found darting around the aquarium, hence the name dartfish, looking for tidbits of food. You may also find them hovering over a reef. They can do this because they have a swim bladder which allows them to be buoyant.

Firefish gobies are a peaceful fish but may fight with others of their own breed. The exception to this is with mated pairs who will live together in monogamy and harmony. Firefish gobies will struggle with other fish that are larger or more aggressive than themselves. This is because they may get eaten or be bullied. When bullied firefish gobies have a tendency to starve themselves to death.

Communication between firefish gobies is done by twitching their elongated dorsal fin. They also use the hook on the end of this fin as a locking mechanism. Catching it in crevices helps them stay in one spot.


An aquarium of 20 gallons is the minimum requirement for a firefish goby but as with most fish, larger is better. For substrate, you should provide a soft sand, since they like to burrow rough sand is not suitable as it may cause injury to your fish. Reef and crevices in the reef are also favored by firefish gobies, they provide a place to hide. You will need to create some suitable hiding places and holes for them to retreat into when they feel threatened. Lava rock and hard corals make great homes for them lovely fish.

Low to moderate currents are most suited to firefish gobies who are often found hovering facing into them. They do this waiting for food such as zooplankton and algae to float by so they can eat it. Lighting should also be low to moderate as a bright light will cause them to stress.

Although firefish gobies are fairly disease resistant, they should be kept at the correct water temperatures and parameters. The water temperature should be between 72 and 80℉. Water parameters should be pH 8.1 to 8.4 with a dGh of 8 to 12.

Being timid Firefish gobies are not aggressive eaters and need to be monitored to ensure they are feeding. Also because they are timid, firefish gobies should be kept with other peaceful fish of a similar size. Other species such as lionfish and large angels are not suitable tank mates as they may eat them.

The most common cause of death in firefish gobies is the lack of a suitable aquarium lid. Being a timid fish, that is easily spooked, firefish gobies have a tendency to jump. Without a well-fitting lid on your aquarium, you run the risk of losing them. Other causes of death are stress, predation, and incorrect feeding. Firefish gobies need a well-balanced omnivore diet.

Firefish goby care guide


As omnivores firefish gobies need a varied diet of zooplankton and chopped meaty foods such as live brine and mysis shrimp. Due to having small guts they are best fed twice a day. Ensuring their diet is varied will help them maintain their coloration.

It is important to monitor your firefish gobies feeding as they are not fish that will fight for food and will stop eating altogether when bullied. They may even starve themselves to death!

Breeding and Sexual Differences
Having no unique sexual identifiers makes firefish gobies virtually impossible to sex. A rough guide, however, would be that females are usually smaller and more slender than males.

Very little is known about the firefish gobies breeding habits other than that they are egg layers. It is thought that the process is similar to that of other gobies but as they do not breed in captivity, it is an assumption rather than fact.


Firefish gobies should only share aquarium space with other fish that are peaceful and of a similar size. Examples of these would be species such as dwarf angels, clownfish, cardinals, dragonets, batfish, and boxfish.

Prices & Availability 

These fish are found in most Aquatic store and availability is good. The average price ( 2018-2019) US $15 or  UK £20 for a list of available fish check out LiveAquaria. These are very special little fish and make your tank interesting when they pop in and out of their hiding place.

Easy to keep, beautiful to look at and inexpensive. What more can you ask for?

Another great Fish worth checking out is the tailspot goby.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve purchased your FireFish Goby don’t be surprised if you don’t see him for a while. Most will go straight into hiding until they are happy and feel safe in their new home.

This can take anywhere from 3-4 days to a week!

Once this amazing fish feels at home they will have no problems darting around their new home displaying their amazing colors. However, they normally stay close to their hole for safety. Over time you’ll see their character come out and they start to grow in confidence. ( Until you add a new fish) then they will again retreat to their home for a while.

Let us know if you already have a Firefish Goby or if you intend to buy one. Don’t be afraid to ask a question if you’re unsure.


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